Saturday, November 25, 2006

$2 bill incidents

WOZ [ co founder of Apple inc.] incident:

Steve Wozniak has been known to pay for services using a $2 note from a "pad" of money—he buys uncut sheets of bills from the Treasury and has them bound into booklets; they are fully legal tender despite their perforated edges. On one occasion, this got him into a spot of trouble at a casino in Las Vegas.

Woz:
About 3 years ago I took my daughter, Sara, to Las Vegas for a gymnastics regional that she was in. During the lengthy warmups my wife and I walked down to the Hard Rock Casino and played slot machines. While generously feeding these machines I tipped the waitress a couple of $2 bills. Waitresses in casinos and other places often exclaim at how much they like getting these and how their kids love them. I have tons of $2 bill stories that will make a whole chapter in my book someday. My $2 bills are real and legit but unusual.

A short while later a casino security manager sat down next to me. He was very quiet and showed no emotion about anything. He was 30-ish and acted like a dedicated security man who knew everything about every type of cash situation ever. This man asked me where I'd gotten the bills and I started a little BS about buying them from a guy that hawked basketball tickets. I sometimes say this to peak the interest in people that wonder if these bills are real or not. I said that I thought the bills were good and acted like I didn't know what was going on, just enough to seem evasive. This man told me that they had tested the bills with their testing pen and that the bills were good.

Then he calmly said that they don't make them like this. I sat for a long time silent and he repeated his statement. I said "you mean, on sheets?" These two $2 bills were attached to each other and perforated. You can purchase $1, $2, and now $5 bills from the Bureau of Printing and Engraving on sheets. The sheets come in sizes of 4, 16, and 32 bills each. I buy such sheets of $2 bills. I carry large sheets, folded in my pocket, and sometimes pull out scissors and cut a few off to pay for something in a store. It's just for comedy, as the $2 bills cost nearly $3 each when purchased on sheets. They cost even more at coin stores.

I take the sheets of 4 bills and have a printer, located through friends, gum them into pads, like stationery pads. The printer then perforates them between the bills, so that I can tear a bill or two away. The bills that I'd tipped the waitress came from such a pad.

Well, the casino security guy kept rubbing the perforation between the two bills but he still showed no emotion at all. He was strictly professional. When he said that they don't make bills like this I asked "They don't?" as though I thought it was quite normal to have sheets. My answer was also so emotionless as to confuse him about me, and to make me seem even more evasive. This, again, I do for a comedic effect. The gentleman then said "they don't make them with perforations." I again asked "they don't"", acting a little like maybe I got ripped off by the person that sold them to me. The security guy kept rubbing the perforation slowly.

Every currency bill has to have a different serial number. We all know that. But for the bills on a sheet, the serial number ends with the last digits the same, and the starting digits the same. It's harder to detect that an inner digit is changing when you look at the serial numbers on a sheet of bills.

So I next said to the casino security guy "you'd think that the serial numbers would be sequential." I normally say "the serial numbers are all the same" but I knew that he'd catch this falsehood more quickly than most people that I use it on. I also sensed a serious tone, based on his attitude, and didn't want to lie outright. Well, this emotionless guy looked slowly down at the two bills and his jaw jerked open. Even his head stayed still and no other signs of emotion showed, but his jaw jerked. I'm sure that he thought for an instant that he had captured Al Capone, counterfeiting $2 bills.

He remained motionless and expressionless for a few seconds and obviously must have discovered that the serial numbers changed in the middle. He calmly raised his head and acted as though nothing had happened, as though I hadn't 'got him', as though his composure had never been broken. But I had got a big point on him and I was quite satisfied in that. Finally the man excused himself and left. I looked at my watch and told my wife that I was heading back to the gymnastics tournamant, which was getting closer to commencing. I told my wife to come when she finished her machine, as it was doing very well right then. I was back at the gym and after perhaps half an hour, the competition began. My wife was still absent. After about one event of my daughter's I finally saw my wife arrive. She came up to where I was seated and pointed out a young, neatly dressed man. She said that he was Secret Service and wanted to talk to me. What a surprise.

Well, I figured that the Secret Service has to be quite diligent in Las Vegas and that it would be most appropriate to get my name and ID in case anything turned up wrong with the $2 bills. So I went down to see this gentleman for a few seconds. He looked around and said that we should find a place to talk. So I figured it would be a couple of minutes. Near the door he asked the gymnastics officials where we could get a quiet room and I figured that it might take 5 minutes or more. We walked down a hall and I had to go to the bathroom. But I couldn't even pee with that secret service man standing right behind me. True story.

We went into a room and the door was closed. This young Secret Service agent opened a chrome brief case on the table and pulled out a card. He said that he was going to read my my Miranda rights. Instantly I thought that I could just say "the bills are good and you know it and I'm leaving this bullshit" but then you always have the fear that they'll hold you for being uncooperative. It's hard to separate rights from reality. So I sat still and was read my Miranda rights. He pulled out forms and I thought that it was now going to take 20 minutes.

He asked my for some picture ID. I have some fake photo ID's that a friend made for me years before, when we could make realistic photo ID's from our computers. Almost nobody else could do this because printers weren't good enough. But I had an expensive early generation dye sublimation printer and made some fake ID's for fun. I had one favorite fake ID that I'd used for almost every airplane flight, domestic and international, that I'd taken for many years. It says "Laser Safety Officer" and has a photo of me with an eyepatch. It also says "Department of Defiance" in an arc, in a font that looks like "Department of Defense" to the casual glance.

As I opened my wallet, I considered whether I should risk using this fake ID on the Secret Service. It probably amounted to a real crime. I had my driver's license as well. But you only live once and only a few of us even get a chance like this once in our lives. So I handed him the fake ID. He noted and returned it. The Secret Service took an ID that said "Laser Safety Officer" with a photo of myself wearing an eyepatch.

You can begin to see why many people don't believe this story when I tell it.

Well, the interview covered my entire life history, including passport numbers and driver's license numbers and all my credit cards and my family names and the schools I attended and more. We covered each of my friends' names and phone numbers because I couldn't remember which one had gotten the $2 bills gummed and perforated for me. This 'interview' lasted 40 minutes. I missed much of my own daughter's regional gymnastics meet.

At the end of the session I wiped my brow and told the agent that I was glad it was about the $2 bills. I told him I was worried that he was after my for my 12 year old daughter winning $7500 at Keno that morning. This was the second time that I'd taken my daughter to Las Vegas. The first time was when she was 9 years old. I was taking a group of about 15 young students of mine to Ceasar's Palace in Las Vegas to attend MacAcademy, for Macintosh training. Well, upon arriving, we all sat down in the Cafe Roma for a lunch. I think about all the kids at all of our tables managed to fill in Keno cards to play. I paid for my family to play 5 games each on their tickets, including those of my 6 year old son, and 9 year old daughter. I paid $1 per play. My young son won $88 on the first ticket and was jumping like a champion. But on the third game of five, my daughter won $1600.

On the gymnastics trip, now that Sara was 12, we sat down for breakfast in the Cafe Caribbe at the Mirage. We filled out some Keno cards and I paid $5 per game. I explained to Sara that her prior $1600 win was extremely lucky and that I'd never known anyone who hit such a high percentage win or jackpot. I said that she'd probably never again see someone win so much for $1 in her life. I pointed out that when you gamble you have to assume that you're going to lose and still be happy. I pointed to the grand casino as evidence that the odds are against you. Well, as we were eating I glanced up at the Keno board and Sara had won $7500.

The downside of this is that Sara gained $7500, I lost $7500, the government gained $7500 and the casino lost $7500. You see, I had to fork out the $7500 to my daughter and collect the winnings myself. But about half the winnings would be paid by me on my taxes as income, and other half of $7500 would be paid as gift tax for giving the winnings to my daughter (I'd already transferred the maximum yearly tax free gift of $10,000 to each of my kids).

$2 bill Taco bell incident
Taco Hell and the $2 Bill

by Peter Leppik


The following is a *true* story. It amused the hell out of me while it was
happening. I hope it isn't one of those "had to be there" things.

On my way home from the second job I've taken for the extra holiday ca$h I
need, I stopped at Taco Bell for a quick bite to eat. In my billfold is a $50
bill and a $2 bill. That is all of the cash I have on my person. I figure that
with a $2 bill, I can get something to eat and not have to worry about people
getting pissed at me.

ME: "Hi, I'd like one seven layer burrito please, to go."
IT: "Is that it?"
ME: "Yep."
IT: "That'll be $1.04, eat here?"
ME: "No, it's *to* *go*." [I hate effort duplication.]

At his point I open my billfold and hand him the $2 bill. He looks at it kind
of funny and says

IT: "Uh, hang on a sec, I'll be right back."

He goes to talk to his manager, who is still within earshot. The following
conversation occurs between the two of them.

IT: "Hey, you ever see a $2 bill?"
MG: "No. A what?"
IT: "A $2 bill. This guy just gave it to me."
MG: "Ask for something else, THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A $2 BILL."
IT: "Yeah, thought so."

He comes back to me and says

IT: "We don't take these. Do you have anything else?"
ME: "Just this fifty. You don't take $2 bills? Why?"
IT: "I don't know."
ME: "See here where it says legal tender?"
IT: "Yeah."
ME: "So, shouldn't you take it?"
IT: "Well, hang on a sec."

He goes back to his manager who is watching me like I'm going to shoplift, and

IT: "He says I have to take it."
MG: "Doesn't he have anything else?"
IT: "Yeah, a fifty. I'll get it and you can open the safe and get
change."
MG: "I'M NOT OPENING THE SAFE WITH HIM IN HERE." [my emphasis]
IT: "What should I do?"
MG: "Tell him to come back later when he has REAL money."
IT: "I can't tell him that, you tell him."
MG: "Just tell him."
IT: "No way, this is weird, I'm going in back."

The manager approaches me and says

MG: "Sorry, we don't take big bills this time of night." [it was 8pm
and this particular Taco Bell is in a well lighted indoor mall
with 100 other stores.]
ME: "Well, here's a two."
MG: "We don't take *those* either."
ME: "Why the hell not?"
MG: "I think you *know* why."
ME: "No really, tell me, why?"
MG: "Please leave before I call mall security."
ME: "Excuse me?"
MG: "Please leave before I call mall security."
ME: "What the hell for?"
MG: "Please, sir."
ME: "Uh, go ahead, call them."
MG: "Would you please just leave?"
ME: "No."
MG: "Fine, have it your way then."
ME: "No, that's Burger King, isn't it?"

At this point he BACKS away from me and calls mall security on the phone
around the corner. I have two people STARING at me from the dining area, and I
begin laughing out loud, just for effect. A few minutes later this 45 year
oldish guy comes in and says [at the other end of counter, in a whisper]

SG: "Yeah, Mike, what's up?"
MG: "This guy is trying to give me some [pause] funny money."
SG: "Really? What?"
MG: "Get this, a *two* dollar bill."
SG: "Why would a guy fake a $2 bill?" [incredulous]
MG: "I don't know? He's kinda weird. Says the only other thing he has
is a fifty."
SG: "So, the fifty's fake?"
MG: "NO, the $2 is."
SG: "Why would he fake a $2 bill?"
MG: "I don't know. Can you talk to him, and get him out of here?"
SG: "Yeah..."

Security guard walks over to me and says

SG: "Mike here tells me you have some fake bills you're trying to
use."
ME: "Uh, no."
SG: "Lemme see 'em."
ME: "Why?"
SG: "Do you want me to get the cops in here?"

At this point I was ready to say, "SURE, PLEASE," but I wanted to eat, so I
said

ME: "I'm just trying to buy a burrito and pay for it with this $2
bill."

I put the bill up near his face, and he flinches like I was taking a
swing at him. He takes the bill, turns it over a few times in his
hands, and says

SG: "Mike, what's wrong with this bill?"
MG: "It's fake."
SG: "It doesn't look fake to me."
MG: "But it's a **$2** bill."
SG: "Yeah?"
MG: "Well, there's no such thing, is there?"

The security guard and I both looked at him like he was an idiot, and it dawned
on the guy that he had no clue.

My burrito was free and he threw in a small drink and those cinnamon things,
too. Makes me want to get a whole stack of $2 bills just to see what happens
when I try to buy stuff. If I got the right group of people, I could probably
end up in jail. At least you get free food.
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Over half a million $2 bills are entered at the American currency tracking website Where's George?. A certain niche of site users have made the $2 bill their preferred denomination, and use it frequently. An unofficial club called "Top Toms" has even appeared for those who have entered 2,000 or more $2 bills into the system. The hope of the Top Toms is to increase the circulation of $2 bills by demanding them from banks. Some members and aspiring members simply ask for the few $2 bills that a particular bank may have in stock at the time of their visit. Some also have their banks order 'straps' (100 bills) or 'bricks' (1000 bills) of $2s direct from the Federal Reserve. Many of the Top Toms will also mark "This is not a rare bill." on the notes before introducing them into circulation. Several dozen people are on this list, and many more aspire for this goal. As of November 2006 there are 43 known Top Toms.

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The United States two dollar bill ($2) is a current denomination of U.S. currency. Former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson is featured on the obverse of the note. The painting The Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull is featured on the reverse. The design on the obverse (excluding the elements of a Federal Reserve Note) is the oldest of all current U.S. currency having been adopted in 1929; the reverse is the second oldest design having been adopted in 1976.

In spite of its relatively low value, the two dollar bill is one of the most rarely-seen denominations of U.S. currency. This is mainly due to the low production of the note; approximately 1% of all notes currently produced are $2 bills. This low production has led to an overall lack of public knowledge of the $2 bill and has also inspired urban legends about it. There are also folk beliefs centering on the $2 bill.

Throughout the $2 bill's life as a large-sized note, it was issued as a United States Note, Silver Certificate, Treasury or 'Coin' Note, and a Federal Reserve Bank Note. When U.S. currency was changed to its current size, the $2 bill was issued only as a United States Note. After United States Notes were discontinued, the $2 bill later began to be issued as a Federal Reserve Note.
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